NAACP to honor residents at awards banquet

Published: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 3:22 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 3:22 p.m.

The Alachua County branch NAACP will honor two residents who are committed to making life better for the people they serve during the group's annual Freedom Fund and Awards Banquet.



* What: Alachua County branch NAACP annual Freedom Fund and Awards Banquet.

* When: 6 p.m. Sunday.

* Where: UF Hilton Hotel & Conference Center, 1714 SW 34th St.

* Tickets: $50; Friday is last day to buy tickets.

* Information: Call 352-870-7013 or 352-222-5930.

And receiving those honors will be Gainesville Police Department chief Tony Jones, who will be awarded the Rev. Dr. Thomas A. Wright Leadership Award, and Marvene Edwards, who will receive the Community Service Award.

The banquet will be held at 6 p.m. Sunday at the University of Florida Hilton Hotel and Conference Center at 1714 SW 34th St. Tickets are $50, and must be purchased by Friday by calling 352-870-7013 or 352-222-5930. The theme this year will be "We Shall Not Be Moved."

The keynote speaker will be Hilary Shelton, NAACP Washington Bureau director and senior vice president for advocacy. Chris Gilmore, a WCJB TV-20 reporter, will be the master of ceremony.

Evelyn Foxx, president of the branch, said the theme is significant because it speaks to the NAACP's commitment to continue fighting for the principles it was founded on.

"That is our national theme, and it let's people know we are still fighting for civil rights and justice, and we are not going to stop," said Foxx.

Jones will be honored with the Wright award because of his leadership in the community, especially for his efforts to help black juveniles stay away from a life of crime. Foxx said the award is named in honor of Wright, the former longtime pastor of Mount Carmel Baptist Church who served as president of the local NAACP during the height of the civil rights movement in the 1960s.

Foxx said Jones is well deserving of the award.

"Chief Jones is being honored for all of the outstanding work he has done in our community, especially with youth and at-risk young men," said Foxx.

Jones is co-founder of the Reichert House Youth Academy, an after-school program that provides academic guidance and discipline to boys in elementary, middle and high school. Jones also has been a supporter of programs and initiatives that focus on crime prevention and the development of adolescents.

When discussing ways to decrease crime in Gainesville, Jones often says, "We can't arrest our way out of this problem."

Edwards will be awarded the Community Service Award for her dedicated service to help others living with HIV/AIDS realize their lives are not over and because she goes to schools and other places to talk to young people about HIV/AIDS prevention. She is president of the Positives Empowering Positives HIV/AIDS support group in Alachua County.

Edwards said she is humbled to be receiving the honor.

"Receiving this award means a lot to me because the work I do, I do it for the Lord," said Edwards, who has been HIV positive for 25 years, since being raped in South Florida at the age of 32. "This award is not just for me, it is for all of the other people who work in the community giving hope to people and teaching the young people about HIV/AIDS prevention, abstinence and safe sex."

Foxx said the banquet, which is held annually, serves as the only fundraiser for the county NAACP. She also said she is excited the branch was able to get Shelton for the keynote speaker.

"We are bringing in one of the best speakers the NAACP has to offer," Foxx said. "He is coming from our national office and we are just glad he is coming to Gainesville."

Shelton has served as a social justice advocate for several organizations, including the United Methodist Church and the United Negro College Fund. In his current role with the NAACP, Shelton is responsible for advocating the federal public policy issue agenda of the NAACP.

Foxx said blacks have been affected by state and federal legislation dealing with civil rights and voting rights in the last few years, and she said Shelton is the perfect person to talk about those issues.

"We haven't faced these many changes in civil rights law since the Jim Crow era, and Mr. Shelton has been the lead person dealing with these issues for the NAACP," Foxx said.

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